Yesterday several Friends members...John McPherson, John and Donna Thalacker, Mark Gluckman, Russ Hall, and Charlie Houder...paddled Sanders Creek to get the mapping and biozone information for the Paddling Project.
It was a lovely day. White pelicans were overhead. They had lunch on a pristine refuge island beach. Then they paid for all that beauty and calm with a challenging 2-mile paddle across choppy gulf waters to get back to the Shired Island launch where they'd left their cars. Not surprisingly, no one got any pictures of that part of the adventure.
Friends members Bob and Jeri Treat were visiting the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Wildlife Refuge with her sister and nephews on Thursday, 20 October. It was an excellent trip, and Jeri wrote to say how much they all enjoyed themselves.
A grand event took place while they were there. Jeri sent some photos of the arrival of Ranger Pam Darty's new Refuge Classroom. It will be a very good resource in presenting details of the Refuge, with free Ranger Programs, wildlife and plant exhibits, live bat programs, and more. The Treats were very pleased to be present for the arrival and setup of such a valuable addition to our National Wildlife Refuge.
They wanted all the members to know about it because they feel sure sure everyone will be glad to have this new facility.
I spent the week at the Friends Academy at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with 24 other Friends group officers from around the country. I gathered ideas about their programs, shared information about ours, and learned lots. And it is a beautiful place. See more photos here.
The Refuge and the Friends will have a joint Booth at the Festival from 10 to 4 on Saturday October 15. Come by and visit.Learn about the new educational building at the refuge, the status of the Paddling Project, and lots of other activities and events.
Yesterday, members of the Paddling Project Team covered Fishbone Creek to test out how the maps and descriptions fit the reality on the water. It was a good paddling day...overcast but enough sun for warmth and photography, breezy but not windy, clear air and calm waters.
What did we find?
The beaches we had seen in aerial photos and hoped to relax on with our lunches...they aren't there anymore. What is that all about? We didn't figure it out. Others need to go and explore that mystery.
The incoming tide relentlessly tried to push us and our poor kayaks onto the oyster shoals...we won for the most part.
It was an adventure, rather than a walk in the park, relative to what we expected given the light winds.
Ground-testing of the Friends Paddling Project trails continued this week with paddles on the Gopher River and Lock Creek by Peg and Russ Hall, and Mark Gluckman. Tom Liebert joined a group on the Cat Island trail. We were struck by the degree of erosion along Lock Creek and the diversity of plant life along some creeks we explored off the Gopher River.
Only a few mishaps...but they included Tom's kayak almost escaping while he was exploring Cat Island with the group, and Mark getting capsized while we tried to circumvent a tree that had fallen across Lock Creek blocking the trail...perhaps erosion at work? Guess that's why we call paddling an adventure activity!
Several Friends members participated in these and other Hidden Coast Paddling events, including a great dinner on Friday at the Suwannee Community Center.
You can learn more about the Event, which continues next weekend, by going to www.hiddencoast.net